Physical Structure of planetary interiors

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Physical Structure of planetary interiors Astronomers have several tools that enable them to probe planetary interiors. With careful observation, one can see the rotation of the planet itself, and the precession of the rotations axis. The “moment of inertia” tells how much of the mass is concentrated towards the center; thus giving a considerably denser surface. Motion satellites are used to determine the mass distribution of planets in the gravitational field. Infrared telescopes are used in detecting large heat flows on Jovian planets. While seismology is the most common data source for terrestrial planets in detecting interior seismic waves that travel through the interior of the planets. The outermost part of the mantle is called the lithosphere. This soft crust gradually heats up and turns into what is known as the asthenosphere. (Strobel, 2007) For example on Mars, through telescopes, scientist can see the mountains and valleys of the planet. They can see what the make up of the land is, and what color are present in the land, help them to determine the composition of the Martian soil. Chemical Composition of Planet Interiors Determining the chemical makeup of planets other than earth is a real challenge to scientist even today. While science has evolved by leaps and bounds in the 20th and 21st centuries, these planets are so far away from us that it is difficult and expensive to study. For many years, what we knew about the other planets was learned from examining them through telescopes. We could estimate their location, figure out where they were in relation to Earth and the other planets, as well as the sun, and guess what they were comprised of. Now, in the 21st century, scientist can scan the surface of other planets “with radar waves beamed from orbiting space probes” (Head, III, 2007) as well as other methods such as “radio astronomy

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